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Top Multiples Questions

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Q: I've heard conflicting things: should I or should I not co-sleep my twins in the same crib? If so, for how long?

A: To most Moms of multiples, nothing makes a better photo op than seeing their babies sleeping nestled up together in the same crib. Plus, only buying one crib is quite the money saver.

The doctor says:
"Most parents intuitively feel that their twins "belong together" in sleep after birth, as they spent so much time together in utero. Twins do regulate each others' sleep, and often do better when together, at least for the first few months. Practices diverge as the babies get older; by three months of age, some babies are starting to disturb each other, and some babies are so large that they simply do not fit together in one crib any longer."
--Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the development of babies, toddlers and parents.

Will It Work?
"This is a good time to start developing confidence in your own parental decisions. Get to know your unique babies from the start. Watch each baby separately and together. What are their temperamental styles? Try new approaches, and then evaluate whether they worked...or not. Revise as you go. Don't feel trapped into thinking that once you establish a habit, you must stick with it forever. Babies are incredibly flexible and change so much within the first year of life that your strategies will need to adapt and change as well."
--Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the development of babies, toddlers, and parents.

Click here for a twin sleep study.

Mom Logic Moms say:
Janet, Mom of b/g five-year-old twins said that her babies were so little when they come home she kept them in the same crib. "I kept mine in the same crib till they were six or eight weeks old. Just make sure you don't keep blankets and pillows in the crib - swaddle them up and lay 'em down."

Other Moms have tried:

  • Sleeping them together in the bassinet but then giving them their own crib
  • Buying a special crib divider made especially for twins
  • Sleeping them on their sides one behind the other (spooning).

Q: Is dressing my twins alike going to hurt their individuality?

A: One of the upsides of having twins is you get to put them in cute outfits which means shopping, shopping and more shopping. On the downside, shopping, shopping and more shopping.

The doctor says:
"There's nothing wrong with putting them in matching outfits, especially when they're too young to notice -- or care. But it's really more about the family's reaction to them as twins -- and as individuals. My own brother and sister are twins, and they cringe at the memory of being referred to as "The Twins"; not each one as its own person. It's most important to get to know and value each baby as its own person. As long as that happens, dressing them alike won't affect them adversely."
--Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the development of babies, toddlers and parents.

What To Expect As They Grow:
"Now, once they become toddlers, get ready for a change: At this age, they need to feel in control of things in their lives, and clothing choices is one great way to let them do that. I'm all for letting toddlers pick their own outfits, if it seems important to them, as long as it's weather-appropriate. This is not the place to take a stand, as a parent."
--Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the development of babies, toddlers and parents.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Sally, a Mom of non-matching gear girl twins, says, "I don't think it will hurt their individuality at all but it seems like a huge commitment for the parents to keep the kids dressed alike. You are doing it for yourself, and not for the babies, keep that in mind. So if you want to dress them up - go for it."

Other Moms suggest:

  • Try the same outfit but different colors
  • Let each child have a different hat or accessory
  • Write their name in their clothes to give them a sense of their own belongings.

Q: I hear a lot about the benefits of putting twins on a sleep schedule, but is it even possible?

A: Isn't there a little part of you that wishes you could send your twins or triplets to baby boot camp for a few months to get them into a daily routine?

The pediatrician says:
"The demands that one baby puts on a mother's time and energy and psyche are enormous. Multiply those demands by a factor of two, and those demands become almost overwhelming (and sometimes do become overwhelming). Nights are the worst, as one feeding seems to follow another with only the briefest of breaks for desperately needed rest. So, for the first few months it's better to forget about schedules during the day and focus on night-time."
--Dr. Peter Shulman is a pediatrician at Valley Pediatric Medical Group in Encino, California

What You Can Do:

  • Put the babies down at a reasonable time, i.e., any time before 9 p.m., and hopefully by 8 p.m.
  • Establish a nighttime routine, one that will presumably involve a bath and a feeding. Then to bed for what hopefully will be a prolonged period of sleep.
  • Be patient: Your mission won't be accomplished in a day or week, but it may well be accomplished in a month.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Joy, a Mom of b/g five-year-old twins was enthusiastic about the merits of a schedule. "It is possible and I highly recommend it - once you get them on the same schedule, it is great! I kept mine on the same schedule for the first three years - and it was a huge help to the rest of the family. They can eat, play and nap together all at the same time, it takes a bit of planning but it creates sanity in your home!"

Considerations from other Moms:

  • If the babies are the same weight and therefore the same nutritional needs
  • If you can comfortably feed both at once
  • If they have sleep difficulty

Q: Is being pregnant with twins considered a high-risk pregnancy?

A: Being knocked up with twins can seem like a whole mess of test and more tests, appointment after appointment and lots of worries making you feel more fragile than a Ming vase. Hey, all the more excuse to put your feet up and eat pints of ice cream for nine months.

The doctor says:
"If the mother is healthy and does not have a history of pregnancy problems, it may not be considered high risk. If they are identical twins, and share a placenta, the pregnancy is always considered high risk due to increased risk of twin-twin transfusion...the blood of one twin is transfused into the other twin. Signs include rapidly enlarging uterus in the mother, and sonogram shows one twin much bigger than the other."
-Dr. Hilda Hutcherson is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York.

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Stefanie, Mom of twin girls says that twin pregnancy may not be high risk but it sure is high maintenance. "I had so many blood tests, I may have well just walked around with an IV. Plus, at 29 weeks I was placed on four hours of bed rest a day lying on my left side to help blood flow to one twin who was not growing as fast. Sure, bed rest sounds good in theory but not with a job and another child. Make sure you are stocked up on good DVD's, and have some help lined up way before you're due, just in case."

Other Moms recommend:

  • Drink as much water as humanly possible. Dehydration is your worst enemy.
  • Don't miss doctor's appointments
  • Make sure you're ready in case the babies come early

Q: How often will I have to see my doctor if I'm having twins?

A: With all the doctor's appointments you'll have during a multiples pregnancy, it may start to feel like your pregnancy is a full-time job.

The doctor says:
"In the beginning months, you'll be seeing your doctor every two weeks. After the second trimester, once a week. This may be different for different doctors, however. The doctor visits are more frequent because with twin pregnancies the mother is at higher risk of preterm labor and delivery, increased risk of toxemia, high blood pressure and pregnancy induced diabetes."
--Dr. Hilda Hutcherson is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University in New York.

Look Out For Preterm Labor
Don't wait for your next visit, call you doctor immediately if you experience any of these signs of preterm labor:

  • Uterine contractions, painful or not, that occur more than four times an hour.
  • A dull ache or sharp pain in your lower back
  • Menstrual-like cramps
  • Upset stomach-like cramps, possibly with gas pains or diarrhea.
  • Pressure in your pelvis
  • An increased or changed vaginal discharge.

Good Read: "Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies"

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Julie, a Mom who was pregnant with triplets, said it's very important to love your OB because you're going to be seeing a lot of them. "My OB's office was like the bar on Cheers. It was the only place everyone knew my name! When the babies were born, I actually got personal calls from the office asking for pictures! And my OB and I still keep in touch through email all the time.

Other Moms suggest:

  • Make your appointments first thing in the day or right after lunch.
  • Bring your own book or magazines because you'll spend a lot of time waiting.
  • Be nice to the office staff if you want them to be accommodating.

Q: If one of my twins is colicky is the other more likely to be colicky as well?

A: So far, there is no medication approved to treat colic in a baby---we're sorry, sleepless Mommy.

The pediatrician says:
"Colic is very individual, so both twins may not get it. It really is that simple - each twin's body has its own unique biological properties and will react to the environment uniquely - even for identical twins. And if your babies are especially fussy, it may not actually be colic so be sure to rule out other factors."
--Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP, is the CEO and Chief Editor of Pediatrics Now

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"Just make sure they are drinking a formula that their little body can handle" says Delia, a Mom of triplets. "I had one colicky baby and the other two were fine. I found it was the formula that wasn't sitting well with the one, so I changed for all three. I went with a non-milk soy based formula and think is was a big help relieving colic."

Other Moms suggest:

  • Reflux can make a baby extremely fussy but it's treatable.
  • They could be waking each other up so make sure they have the space to get enough sleep.
  • If they're preemies that could cause them to be generally fussier than full-term babies.

Q: Everyone says that I'm "doubly blessed" but I have newborn twins and I'm in hell. How long will it take before I get some sort of normalcy back in my life?

A: To be honest, it can be a little difficult to get that normalcy back--semi-normalcy might be a better goal.

The pediatrician says:
"The first two-three months with twins will be the hardest months of your life. You'll be exhausted all the time. But take heart, mothers of twins: all is not lost. Life will get better. You will get sleep again. The question is...when? Things generally settle down by two, or, at latest, three months. It is by then that you can expect some predictability in their feeding schedules, both day and night. It is by then that both of them will be sleeping an extended period of time at night: perhaps not through the night, but a good four-six hours at a stretch. It is by then that you will start to feel human again."
--Dr. Peter Shulman is a pediatrician at Valley Pediatric Medical Group in Encino, California

Mom•Logic Moms say:
"It's such a tough adjustment," says Julia, a Mom of twin girls and a toddler girl. "I didn't think I'd make it through the first year. It took another full year after that to fully come out of my fog and start to have some semblance of a social life again. But the thing that helped was to totally give over to it. I lowered all my expectations of myself and just focused on one day after the next. Eventually it did get better."

Other Moms suggest:

  • Help, Help, Help! Hire as much as you can afford.
  • Don't try to be SuperMom. Keeping the babies, warm, dry and fed will have to be enough.
  • Avoid isolating -see friends even if it means just having them come over to help with the babies.

Q: Any special discipline techniques for keeping my twins in line?

A: With twins sometimes it's double the fun, but sometimes you're in for double the trouble.

"The best discipline technique for multiples can be summed up in one word: consistency. Each twin, in addition to receiving their own correction, is usually witness to their sibling's reprimands. In a good and just world, that means they would/will learn twice as fast from twice the reinforcing observation. Regardless of age, we all learn via repetition! Your children will repeat the same less-than-ideal behaviors over and over to confirm what is acceptable and what is not in your eyes. They may "flip-flop" initiators just to make sure the result is always predictable. Please don't let your own tiredness "ease" the predetermined consequence (e.g. verbal correction, time-out, redirection, privilege deprivation, etc.)! If you "allow" a previously "disallowed" behavior even once, they will be incredibly confused. Your previous disciplinary efforts on that issue are then rendered null and void."
--Cheryl Lage is the author of "Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice From Pregnancy Through The First Year"

To Keep In Mind:

  • Be on the same page as your husband or co-parent
  • Try to remain calm and react to the behavior and not the stress
  • Don't try to reason with a toddler when it comes to a dangerous behavior

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Dulce, a Mom of triplet boys, has her hands full. "I have the counting method that I've used since they were tots and I still use it today. I count out loud... "ONE!... TWO!!... THREE!!!" and if they still don't respond I remove them from the situtation. If they go right back to doing what you don't want them to, I would take them and put them in a secure area by themselves. They HATE being on their own and would rather be with their brothers. So now when I start counting they shape up quick, cause they can't stand the idea of their brothers having fun with out them."

Q: If I'm pregnant with twins, what are the chances they'll be premature?

A: Every Mom seems to worry about carrying their babies to full term. On the downside, with twins or more it's practically impossible. But, on the upside, at least you get to gain more weight guilt free!

The doctor says:
"The average preterm labor is 40 percent. With those odds, you just have to make sure you're being followed appropriately. After 24 weeks make sure you alternate OB visits with your perinatologist (an obstetrical subspecialist concerned with the care of the mother and fetus at higher-than-normal risk for complications). That way if you are in danger of going into labor it can be caught as early as possible. Keep in mind that 37 weeks is considered term for twins. Anything under 37 weeks is considered preterm."
--Dr. Rebecca Perlow is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Tips to help you have a safe pregnancy:

  • Make sure you attend every doctor's appointment. They are scheduled more frequently for a reason.
  • Make sure you deliver at a hospital with a good NICU
  • Eat healthy and take your prenatal vitamins

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Bonnie, Mom to premature twins, recommends expecting the unexpected. "I had no idea there was any problem with my pregnancy until I was suddenly put on bed rest at 29 weeks due to preterm labor. I ended up spending the rest of my pregnancy in the hospital until I delivered at 36 weeks! I wish I had thought ahead in case of something like that happening."

Other Moms recommend:

  • Have a bag packed pretty much from the time you find out you're expecting multiples
  • If you find out you're in danger of delivering early, get steroid shots.
  • Visit your hospital's NICU to meet the doctors just in case.

Q: Is it a good or bad idea to have my twins share a bedroom?

A: The expert says:
"Many twin parents elect to separate their twins early on, for fear that if either or both are particularly colicky or sleepless, one twin screaming will awake and start the other going. Granted, I can only speak credibly from our experience, but surprisingly we've found the reverse to be true. It is AMAZING how one twin can/will sleep through his/her sibling raising the roof! On the occasions when one does wake the other (in our case, from wee baby years to the present day) the awakened twin actually seems to find comfort in seeing a parent care for the sibling in distress...as opposed to "wondering" what's going on in the other room and then sounding their own scream alarm in succession."
--Cheryl Lage is the author of "Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice From Pregnancy Through The First Year

Pros to co-sleeping:

  • Only need one monitor
  • Space saving by having two kids in one room
  • Brings your kids closer

Mom•Logic Moms say:
Dinah, Mom of twin boys raved about her experience. "My twin boys have been sharing a room from the get go and now they're seven-years-old and get along like gangbusters. I love coming into their room in the morning and hearing them chatting about their upcoming day. It's so sweet. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Other Moms say:

  • Sleep them in the same room, but I suggest separate cribs.
  • Try it--but if they really want to be on their own, you should respect that.
  • Let them each decorate their side of the room differently to help them feel independent.


next: Celebrity Crib Notes
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
greer June 12, 2008, 4:39 PM

I have boy/girl 20 month old twins. How long should time-out be? if it is too long, do they forget why there are there?

Amber September 26, 2008, 3:52 PM

Hi, I have 25 month old twin girls. I have read and been told from my pediatrician one minute for every year of age, so technically I’m supposed to keep them in time-out for two minutes, but i usually just keep them there until they calm down or for about a minute, I don’t necessarily time it, as long as I feel they are getting it why they are there.I have one that seems to be in time-out ALOT. Good luck! It’s fun, but definitely hard.

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